Lean Protein

Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. Protein provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks used in the growth, repair, function, and regulation of the body's tissues and organs. It helps in the formation of new red blood cells, building strong bones, supporting immune health, and assisting in the regulation of enzymes and hormones.

Almost a third of a person’s diet should come from protein. Protein is found in meats and other foods such as dairy products, legumes, nuts and eggs.

Although meat products are a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins, they often are high in saturated fat which can be bad for heart health. Therefore, it is important to choose leaner cuts of meat.   

How to Choose Leaner Meats

The leanest cuts of meat contain “round” or “loin” in their name.

Look for beef with USDA “Select” or “Choice” on the package. These generally contain less fat than meat with “Prime” on the package.

Choose ground beef that is 90% lean.

Choose white meat like chicken and turkey products.

Look for poultry with USDA Select grading of A and B.

More Ideas for Keeping your Protein Choices Lean

Replace half of the amount of animal protein in a recipe with legumes. Using legumes is always a good choice for protein.

Choose low fat dairy products including skim milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. An easy way to incorporate lean proteins is to make a smoothie with yogurt, skim milk and fruit.

Keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for a quick high protein snack.

Eat fish, particularly salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, or sardines. They contain healthy fats. Keeping cans of healthy tuna on hand for sandwiches or salads is helpful.

Eat cottage cheese with fruit and nuts for a healthy snack.

When ordering meat in restaurants, order your meat poached, steamed, grilled, baked or broiled.

Avoid meat that has been battered or fried, cooked in butter, or covered in a creamy sauce.

Eat only half of the meat that comes with a dish at the restaurant, save the other half for another meal.

Cut skin and fat off meat before cooking and/or eating.

Eat Quinoa. This unique grain has 100% of the essential amino acids and contains healthy fats.

Eat nuts, as they are a great protein source that contain healthy fats.


For more information look at the following web pages:

Special Considerations for Choosing Lean Meat

Food Network’s 9 Lean Proteins You Should Be Eating